Ever on the cutting edge ofÂ truly monumental topics of debate, I’ve decided to weigh in on the Guitar Hero craze that has captured the minds and benumbed fingers of our youth.Â Including my household.
I’m not gonna describe the game, if you don’t already know about it then you’re clearly here by mispelling something in a Google search.Â Â This unexpected mega-hit from Harmonix systems, now on it’s third sequel if you count the 80’s music edition,Â has become THE game to buy for Christmas and spawned a cottage industry forÂ customized gear (including refurbished REAL guitars with buttons replacing the frets) and it’s own socialÂ microcosm.
That’s all well and good.Â I owe it to these games for teaching my kids that Greenday is NOT punk, but the Ramones are (not to mention who the HELL the Ramones were).Â Just the other day my heart leapt as I overheard a back seat discussion over who my daughter’s favorite ‘new’ bands were; Pantera, Boston orÂ Queen.Â Ah, has it been so long ago that theyÂ were jamming to Barney or Hanson?Â Shudder.
And I know, all over America impressionable youth are being saved from the ravages of Rap and Hip-hop, becoming edu-macated that their parent’s music doesn’t necessarily suck.Â Â Depending on the parents, of courseÂ – MY parents music sucked.Â Â Ferrante & Teicher!Â And people wonder why I turned out the way I didÂ (Sorry Mom & Dad – Love ya’!).Â Â
Anyhow,Â by making some older acts now ‘cool’, thisÂ younger generation has begun exploringÂ even other classic bands, having realized that they might in fact be missing something.Â It blows me awayÂ to see a kid at the mall wearing a Pink Floyd shirt, knowing damn well he might’ve been conceived to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but has definitely not seen it performed live.
But I’ve been reluctant to jump too deeply into the game’s culture myself.Â Yes, I’ve dabbled (I mean, I AM human) but every time I spend more than 20 minutes on the controller, a little voice creeps into my head saying “you know, if you were practicing one of your REAL guitars upstairs, you’d actually be accomplishing something with your life”.Â That little voice is mean sometimes.
That’s just it.Â Is Guitar Hero just another example of us ‘dumbing down’ a more intricate art and skill set, so that one doesn’t actually have to apply himselfÂ to sound halfway decent?Â I mean, sure getting 5 stars on ‘Iron Man’ is fun – so is mastering it yourself after sounding it out by ear on a secondhand Stratocaster.Â Â And the laterÂ way is not only more fulfilling,Â it teachs abilities that canÂ be honed and perfected over a lifetime.Â Â Every time I see a group of Skater thugs crowded into a circle, discussing their Guitar Hero ‘gear’ – or God forbid I see someone with a multi-stickered CASE for their controller -Â I wanna smack them all collectivelyÂ on the backs of their oily heads and lead them like the Pied Piper to Sam Ash.
And are the same bands who now benefit from greater name recognition due to having a song included in the game, at the same time short changing the very nature of what they did to write, re-write and record said hit tune?Â Is it oversimplifying a very difficult and time consuming process ?
My daughters tell me I’m wrong, that by having to fight & practice to master ‘Bark at the Moon’ on Expert level, they have beenÂ givenÂ a feel for just how difficult the guitar really is, and how gifted a musicianÂ Jake E. Lee must be to have written that legendary rocker.Â Touche’.
So maybe it really is a good thing.Â Or at least theÂ good outweighs the negatives.Â I guess time will tell.Â
In the meantime, back to 3 starring Medium level ‘Slow Ride’ for me.Â As my Charvel model 3b gathers dust upstairs, and gently weeps.